WHEN YOU HAVE enough passion for something that is important to you, often the universe casts a fond eye in your direction and throws something your way to encourage you, even more. This was something that inveterate film-watcher Johann Botha (67), a semi-retired Pretoria resident experienced on February 27 when Cinema Nouveau awarded him a Premier card, in a special ceremony.
This card is the movie company rolling out the proverbial red carpet for its customers and offers a range of special ticket prices, pre-production notifications and more.
“I was completely blown over with surprise and excitement,” said he, referring back to some 30 years of dedicated film watching. “While I do watch the commercial films as well, I have always been a staunch supporter of Nouveau and Ster-Kinekor – nothing beats a good film on the big screen. My wish is that Ster-Kinekor and especially Nouveau will bring us many more of the world’s best films in the years to come.”
Botha, who worked in the corporate world for many years and now spends some of his time curating art exhibitions, when he is not writing private film reviews for the ‘converted film lover’, knows what it means to collate strong material. His all time favourite film experiences have included Lars van Trier’s 1996 piece Breaking the Waves, Martin Scorsese’s devastating film Silence (2016) and the unforgettable David Cronenberg 2002 film Spider, with Ralph Fiennes and Miranda Richardson, to say nothing of works of the ilk of Miloš Forman’s Amadeus (1984) and David Lean’s A Passage to India also made in 1984; the Neil Armstrong bio called First Man directed in 2018 by Damien Chazelle, the devastatingly tough and gentle Song for a Raggy Boy directed by Aisling Walsh in 2003, Garth Davis’s extraordinary Lion (2016) and The Wife (2018) with Glenn Close opposite Jonathan Pryce, to name but a few.
“But it is the Casey Affeck 2016 film Manchester by the Sea that still haunts me,” he added. “I watched it three times and each time by the time the movie ended, I was swept away by the decisions the main character had to take.
“I enjoy being challenged by a beautiful well-made film. At Nouveau, you get real quality. Often you can see that the films were made on a shoe-string budget with ordinary people, and that is what excites me about them.” And the qualities for a mind-boggling film for him? “Ones which confront the viewer and pull them out of their comfort zones.”
In thanking Cinema Nouveau for this acknowledgement, Botha commended Jan-Albert Fourie, the General Manager of Cinema Nouveau for his strong curatorial skills, making sure that the best of the best on the big screen gets to this valuable platform. “He is an exceptional and passionate man”, he added, commenting that he’s keenly anticipating the screening of the Met Opera’s production of Bizet’s Carmen this week at the Nouveau suite. “We are truly blessed to see world class opera at the price of a movie ticket.”
“The one thing I’d love is to be able to encourage young people to go to Nouveau,” he adds. “It will change their lives for good. It’s like reading a good book, it stays with you forever.”